The Film Independent Spirit Awards embraced the mainstream hit over the scrappy indie on Saturday afternoon, with David O Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” winning the Best Feature award in a field that also included the Sundance sensation and Oscar nominee “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
With additional wins for director, screenplay and lead actress (Jennifer Lawrence), the show marked a triumphant return for writer-director David O. Russell, who won the Spirit Award for Best First Feature 19 years ago for his debut, “Spanking the Monkey.”
“Silver Linings Playbook,” which is up for eight Academy Awards at Sunday’s Oscars show, became the second consecutive Spirit Awards winner for the Weinstein Company, which also released last year’s Spirit and Oscar champ, “The Artist.”
The eligibility of both films was questioned when they were nominated; “The Artist” was made by French director Michel Hazanavicus and its two lead actors were French, which would have put it in the International Film category had its not qualified because of its director’s permanent residency status.
With a reported budget of $21 million, “Silver Linings Playbook” is $1 million over the stated limit for Spirit Awards qualifying, but the jury that decides nominations has the discretion to add films that don’t fall within the strict limits.
Other nominees for the top prize included Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom,” Richard Linklater’s “Bernie” and Ira Sachs’ “Keep the Lights On.”
Since 2000, 10 of the 13 Spirit Awards winners, and nine of the last 10, have also been Best Picture nominees at the Oscars – though only “The Artist” has won both awards, leading to the phrase “win on Saturday, lose on Sunday.”
The "SLP" producers said they expected that the Spirit Award would go to "Beasts of the Southern Wild." "We were sure that we were going to lose today, and we're sure we're going to lose tomorrow [at the Oscars]," said producer Bruce Cohen in the press room afterwards.
“Beasts,” which drew loud applause in the room every time it was mentioned, did not go home empty-handed. It won an award for Ben Richardson's cinematography.
And Russell's film didn't completely run the table: John Hawkes won the Lead Actor role for "The Sessions" over Bradley Cooper for "Silver Linings."
Matthew McConaughey won the Supporting Male award for playing the strip-club owner in "Magic Mike," and began his speech by crooning, "I had to take my pants off to win a trophy."
Helen Hunt, the one Oscar nominee in her category, won the Supporting Female award for her role as a sex therapist in "The Sessions."
Michael Haneke's "Amour," a prohibitive favorite for the Oscars' foreign-language award, was named Best International film. The 70-year-old Haneke, who just arrived in town from directing an opera in Madrid, said "I think I'm the oldest man in the room."
Kirby Dick's and Amy Ziering's "The Invisible War" was named Best Documentary.
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" was named Best First Feature, while Derek Connolly won the first award of the night, Best First Screenplay, for "Safety Not Guaranteed." Connolly appeared sedated during a long, rambling acceptance speech that drew hoots from the audience, and ended when actor Bryan Cranston came onstage and poured Connolly a shot of whiskey.
A few minutes later, Connolly was escorted out of the Spirit Awards tent by security.
The show also presented some awards that had previously been announced. The Robert Altman Award, which goes to a film's director, casting director and ensemble cast, went to Sean Baker's "Starlet."
Four sponsored awards, which come with cash grants, were given to Mynette Louie for "Stones in the Sun," Adam Leon for "Gimme the Loot," Peter Nicks for "The Waiting Room" and Laura Colella for "Breakfast With Curtis."
The show was hosted by Andy Samberg, whose tepidly-received monologue included the observation that it is "the only awards ceremony watched by more people at the actual show than on television."
It will be televised on IFC at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Best Feature: “Silver Linings Playbook”
Best Director: David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Best Screenplay: David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Best First Feature: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
Best First Screenplay: Derek Connolly, “Safety Not Guaranteed”
John Cassavetes Award (Given to the best feature made for under $500,000): "Middle of Nowhere"
Best Female Lead: Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Best Male Lead: John Hawkes, "The Sessions"
Best Supporting Female: Helen Hunt, "The Sessions"
Best Supporting Male: Matthew McConaughey, "Magic Mike"
Best Cinematography: Ben Richardson, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Best Documentary: "The Invisible War"
Best International Film: "Amour," Michael Haneke
Robert Altman Award (Given to one film's director, casting director, and its ensemble cast):
Director: Sean Baker
Casting Director: Julia Kim
Ensemble Cast: Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson, Karren Karagulian, Stella Maeve, James Ransone
Piaget Producers Award: “Stones in the Sun,” Mynette Louie
Someone to Watch Award: “Gimme the Loot,” Adam Leon
Stella Artois Truer Than Fiction Award: “The Waiting Room,” Peter Nicks
Jameson Find Your Audience Award: “Breakfast With Curtis,” Laura Colella
"Mistaken for Strangers" will be the opening night film at the Tribeca Film Festival this spring.
The film follows the indie band The National on tour. It was directed by Tom Berninger, who also happens to be the brother of The National's lead singer Matt Berninger.
It's an edgier choice to kick off the festival than "The Five-Year Engagement," the Judd Apatow-produced romantic comedy that opened Tribeca last year.
"Mistaken for Strangers" also will have its world premiere at the festival. The opening screening will take place on April 17, will be followed by a special performance by The National.
For the uninitiated, The National is a Brooklyn-based band that has been likened to Leonard Cohen and Wilco. Their 2010 album High Violet sold more than half a million copies worldwide. A brand new studio album from The National is slated for a May release.
Their songs have also been featured on the soundtracks to films like "Win Win" and "Warrior."
"When my brother asked me along on tour as a roadie, I thought I might as well bring a camera to film the experience,” Tom Berninger said in a statement. “What started as a pretty modest tour documentary has, over the last two and a half years, grown into something much more personal, and hopefully more entertaining. It's a huge thrill to be showing this movie at the Tribeca Film Festival."
Tribeca runs through April 28.